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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | October 2008 

Irreverent Chef: Saludos Desde Seattle
email this pageprint this pageemail usLiana Turner - PVNN

Things are different in Seattle than they are in Vallarta, and the differences become even more noticeable when one spends considerable time away.
This week I am writing from the lovely city of Seattle. We left Vallarta in a sweaty flurry, and after a non-eventful (that's the way we like it) flight, arrived just after 8 pm to 60 degree cold, which was a big shock to our soft and warm Vallarta bones.

I've been here for two days now, and it does seem to get easier to tolerate the relative cold as the hours go by. Last night I was even able to sleep with my nose outside of the covers. I do realize that there are colder places, and that it is not REALLY cold here, but this is about as cold as I want to get.

The cold isn't the only thing that is different here than in Vallarta, and the differences become even more noticeable when one spends considerable time away, like I have. My last trip to "The Old Country" was two years ago.

My daughter keeps commenting on how clean it looks here. It does look clean. I am not sure why. I don't see people out cleaning any more than in Vallarta. Maybe it is because the weeds don't grow so fast here, and the curbs and medians stay nice and neat longer. Or maybe they have huge teams of people who swarm over the city in the night and clean everything, like army ants in the jungle.

I have noticed how quiet it is. Sure, we are in the suburbs, and not downtown, but the quietness is amazing and surprising to me, after being in Vallarta, where there is hardly a silent moment anywhere at any time. Dogs don't seem to bark here, and buses are not huge, smoke-belching, hurtling monsters. No one plays loud music, and there are never any vendors going down the street with speakers blaring, expounding on the virtues of fresh strawberries, or how happy you will make your family if you would just buy some tomatoes. I don't miss those vendors at all. I'm sure some people might think of them as a quaint and typical cultural treasure, but I am not one of those people. I think of them as noise pollution, and I would be pleased if they gave up that selling tactic for good.

Things seem to be bigger here too, but then Americans are a bit bigger than Mexicans as individuals, so maybe that's why. The lanes on the roads are wider. Stores are bigger. Kitchens are much bigger. A typical Mexican kitchen is very small and almost seems to be an afterthought in many homes. Here in the United States we put a lot more thought into our kitchens. We do a lot of entertaining in them, and may people practically live in them, so they are naturally larger and contain more things that we use in everyday life.

Many people think that all of Mexico moves at kind of a slow place, but there are some areas in which Mexico is way ahead in the speed department. Medical care stands out like a sore thumb. In Mexico you can walk into nearly any hospital or doctor's office and be seen right away, and at a very reasonable fee. Here in the USA, you can wait for weeks to get an appointment, or if you can't wait, you will be instructed to visit an emergency room, which can still take hours, even if you do have a real emergency. I think Mexico is very quick about the most important things, like health care and getting chips and salsa to the table.

Most things here seem to be really expensive. For instance, a half gallon of 2% milk is $4.29 USD. At today's rate, that is just over $55 pesos. Yikes! I took two pairs of pants into a laundry to have them hemmed. The price (no pressing) was $24.00. That is $308.00 pesos! Last week I had a whole dress made for my daughter to dance in at school in Vallarta, and the seamstress only charged us $50 pesos for the sewing (we bought and delivered the fabric to her.) I gave her $70, and I still thought it was a bargain, and wondered if I shouldn't have given her more. The one exception to the higher prices is clothing. It is possible to find high quality clothing here at very reasonable prices, much less than in Vallarta. Some of the clothing is even made in Mexico. Oh, yes, and electronics are much cheaper in the US, but we all know that already.

It is a good thing to travel and see different ways and means. I try to appreciate the differences as just what they are, and not a license to judge or as an encouragement to start changing everything. It is nice that things are not all the same everywhere. However, if they ever decide to outlaw those cars with speakers on them, I would happily go along with that.

The Irreverent Chef, a.k.a. Liana Turner, is the chef and owner of Paradise Bakery and Catering. Serving the "Best Cinnamon Rolls in Vallarta," along with delicious sandwiches, salads, main dishes and yummy sweet treats every day but Sunday, and providing all styles of catering services, from pre-prepared meals to-go for informal gatherings to full service elegance for dinners, cocktail parties, wedding receptions and special events, Paradise Bakery & Catering is located at Sierra Aconcagua 299, Prolongacion Brasil, Colonia Lazaro Cardenas, Puerto Vallarta. For more information, call (322) 222-5133 or visit

Click HERE for more articles by The Irreverent Chef

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